A pair of bills have been introduced into the Mississippi legislature that seek to accomplish the same thing: raising the minimum age to purchase tobacco and alternative nicotine delivery products from 18 to 21-years-old in hopes of reducing exposure to young people.
House Bill 87, introduced by Rep. Bryant Clark, D-47, and House Bill 190, introduced by Rep. Deborah Butler Dixon, D-63, are nearly identical bills, modifying existing laws to change the language regarding the purchase of tobacco products. The former is a bit more complex than the latter, as it also seeks to authorize the state Department of Health to conduct random, unannounced inspections to ensure compliance of the changes. In addition, it seeks to add certain legislative findings to the law as well as provide updated definitions to terms regarding tobacco and nicotine delivery products.
HB 87 is also seeking fines for both retailers and consumers who violate the law. Individuals selling to a minor would face fines starting at $300 for a first offense and escalating to $1,000 for a third offense, and could face a one-year suspension of the license needed to sell tobacco products. A person under 21 attempting to purchase tobacco products would face a first time fine of $10, though it escalates to $50 for each subsequent offense, although it could be substituted for 48 to 72 hours of community service. Signage requirements and mandatory identification checks for persons under 30 are also part of the bill.
Both bills are seeking a start date of July 1, 2017 and have been referred to the House Committee on Drug Policy.